Thursday, October 22, 2009

I love Vallejo

Have You Anything to Say In Your Defense?

by César Vallejo

Well, on the day I was born,
God was sick.
They all know that I'm alive,
that I'm vicious; and they don't know
the December that follows from that January.
Well, on the day I was born,
God was sick.

There is an empty place
in my metaphysical shape
that no one can reach:
a cloister of silence
that spoke with the fire of its voice muffled.

On the day I was born,
God was sick.

Brother, listen to me, Listen . . .
Oh, all right. Don't worry, I won't leave
without taking my Decembers along,
without leaving my Januaries behind.
Well, on the day I was born,
God was sick.

They all know that I'm alive,
that I chew my food . . . and they don't know
why harsh winds whistle in my poems,
the narrow uneasiness of a coffin,
winds untangled from the Sphinx
who holds the desert for routine questioning.

Yes, they all know . . . Well, they don't know
that the light gets skinny
and the darkness gets bloated . . .
and they don't know that the Mystery joins things together . . .
that he is the hunchback
musical and sad who stands a little way off and foretells
the dazzling progression from the limits to the Limits.

On the day I was born,
God was sick,

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What a Week

Strange, sad, and good things happening:

Rick Bursky's wonderful book was accepted for publication. Rick and Claire Bateman, two of my favorite poets, will have books next year . . . I can't wait.

Barrack Obama won the Peace Prize. I keep thinking how Hillary Clinton and Anne Marie Slaughter won it, too.

A professor from the Ohio State Ag School asked me what I would do if I could do one thing to change the ag policy in the state. I said I'd request more public funding for agricultural research so that the universities were not depending on corporations for funding. Two days later Tom Vilsack asked for more public funding for universities for agricultural research. Verdad!

Herb Thomas asked me if I'd be interested in participating in the Spoken Word event in January in Cleveland.

NASA bombed the moon in order to find out if there's water.

We saw Traficant at dinner on Friday night. He came over to our table and greeted our friends. Rumor has it he might run for election against Wilson.

The great poet, Morton Marcus, is dying. His new book is forthcoming from White Pine Press, and from what I've seen of it, it might well be his best.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

How to Poop

I don't know, but this made my day today . . . an article in the Daily Intel on Alicia Silverstone.

Alicia Silverstone Will Teach You How to Poop

Alicia Silverstone has been a vegan for ten years, and with her new book, The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight and Saving the Planet, she hopes to convert the rest of us. "The truth is, there is a list of foods that will make you fat and make you sick and hurt you and make you older and tired and slowly deteriorate," she told us at last night's launch party at Candle Cafe. Like milk, for instance. "Remember, dairy was designed to make little baby calves turn into 400-pound cows, so that's what it does to you," she told us.

I'd like to point out that cows weigh a lot more than 400 lbs. And it's the corn, I think, not the milk that makes an animal fat.

Yep, same goes for people I'd guess. Vegan or otherwise.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Fear of Brain Jello

I'm always amazed by the ability of people to fear -- and not to fear. The logic of fear in general.

President Reagan had that slogan, "There is a bear in the woods," to inspire fear of the Soviets. Wouldn't you rather know there isn't a bear in the woods? I think that was the implication of the ad. Or I guess we were supposed to become stronger than the bear and pour money into the defense industry.

And of course Dick Cheney and Brother Bush were all about fear. And they were elected because, I assume, we felt safer with Big Brother in office.

At the same time people are not afraid of various entities in their food. They tend to think, I assume, in terms of statistics, that they will be fine. And they are probably right. I guess.

Mad cow is a case in point. Some scientists says it's not a big risk. Others see it as a sleeping epidemic, something that will get inside a person and make his brain turn to jello in say--15 years. Sometimes sooner. Sometimes later. Who knows when your brain will turn into brain soup? Or jello, depending how long it lasts.

And so the US meat industry doesn't worry much about checking for Mad Cow Disease.

But the Europeans are more concerned. And so is McDonald's.

As long ago as 2001, McDonald's started to enforce stricter standards than the average grocery store. (And it wouldn't be hard because the standards are really weak. In fact the USDA has fought the organic beef co., Creekstone, that has wanted to test ALL its cows for Mad Cow.)

Me? Let's just say I'm a lot more afraid of what's on my plate than what's in my woods. I know I'm in the minority, but I am so grossed out by BSE. Brain jello.

Below are excerpts from two old articles on the topic.

Monday, March 27, 2006 LA Times
Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, an organic meatpacking company based in Arkansas City, Kansas, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for what the company claims is threats by the USDA that it would face prosecution if it proceeds with plans to test nearly 100% of its beef for Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease or BSE.
The USDA position is that allowing any meatpacking company to test every cow would undermine the agency's official position, . . .. .
The USDA currently tests about 1% of cattle slaughtered in the U.S. The USDA's objection is believed to be the result of pressure from larger meatpacking operations.

March, 2001
WASHINGTON -- McDonald's Corp. is starting on its own to enforce widely disregarded federal regulations aimed at keeping the nation's beef supply free of mad cow disease.
The fast-food giant has given packers until April 1 to document that the cattle they buy have been fed in accordance with the federal rules.

The Food and Drug Administration reported recently that hundreds of feed makers had failed to comply with its feed regulations, which are designed to keep the brain-wasting disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, from spreading if it ever reaches this country.

Europe's cattle industry suffered severe losses after consumers began shunning beef because of fears that humans can contract a similar brain disease from eating meat infected with BSE.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A beef about beef

There was a great article in the New York Times today on the beef industry. I think I should take it with me to poetry readings whenever I'm going to read my farm poems because I so often get asked if I would eat a burger today. When I say, Nope. I don't trust the meat sold in the grocery stores in this country, people tend to think I am a bit nuts. Which I am, of course, but if you read the article, well, maybe you'll be nuts too.

The article talked in particular about the risk of E. coli contamination and our lax or total lack of adequate testing and inspections . . .

Here are two excerpts . . .

"Ground beef is usually not simply a chunk of meat run through a grinder. Instead, records and interviews show, a single portion of hamburger meat is often an amalgam of various grades of meat from different parts of cows and even from different slaughterhouses. These cuts of meat are particularly vulnerable to E. coli contamination, food experts and officials say. Despite this, there is no federal requirement for grinders to test their ingredients for the pathogen."

"Yet . . . the hamburgers were made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria."

Add to this the fact that we test only 1% of all food imports,
that our food industry is in bed with our politicians
and as a result food is increasingly deregulated . . .

Yeah, okay, so it's not just beef I worry about. Sigh. But given a choice between beef and some nice GMO vegies . . . Hmm.

Thursday, October 1, 2009